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Jason Collins Comes Out in SI Story, Becoming First Openly Gay Active Male Pro Athlete

Jason Collins - P 2013
Mark Zarill/Getty Images

The 34-year-old veteran center announced that he is gay in a Sports Illustrated cover story, drawing a cavalcade of praise online.

Jason Collins made both sports and civil rights history Monday, coming out of the closet as a gay man, the first active male pro athlete to do so in the United States.

"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay," Collins wrote in a cover story for Sports Illustrated, in which he traced his struggle with his sexual identity from his youth through college and his early years in the NBA. A Stanford product and first-round draft pick by the Nets in 2001, Collins has been utilized as a helpful bench player who specializes in defense and taking fouls.

"I'm glad I can stop hiding and refocus on my 13th NBA season," he writes. "I've been running through the Santa Monica Mountains in a 30-pound vest with Shadow, the German shepherd I got from Mike Miller. In the pros, the older you get, the better shape you must be in. Next season a few more eyeballs are likely to be on me. That only motivates me to work harder."

He also notes the work of several straight athletes who have worked to make sports more gay-friendly, such as the NFL's Chris Kluwe and Brendan Adyandejo. Last month, Michael Strahan, a former NFL player, told THR that he thinks gay athletes would be accepted by teammates.

Having not told anyone in the league about his sexuality, Collins writes that he's uncertain how he'll be received. In the first run of tweets following his announcement, it's clear that several NBA leaders have his back.